08/02/2006 11:00PM

Coeur Joie returns off a good one

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Coeur Joie, who is coming off of the best sprint of his career, should go favored over nine other older horses in the feature race at Hastings on Saturday. The $50,000 optional claiming race at 6 1/2 furlongs attracted a quality field that includes seven horses who have either won or placed in a stakes race. Also in the stellar field is Leloup, who is making his first start since winning the 2003 S. W. Randall Plate.

Trained by Mel Snow, Coeur Joie won the Randall last year, but that was the last time he had hit the board until he overwhelmed a decent field of $35,000 optional sprinters July 23. Coming from off the pace, Coeur Joie took control on the stretch turn and cruised to a four-length romp over Lethal Grande. He posted a very good final time of 1:16.28 for the 6 1/2 furlongs and received a 90 Beyer Speed Figure, which is his best at the distance.

Coeur Joie will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez.

Celt, who is trained by Dino Condilenios, is the one to catch. Celt has never won a stakes race but he did finish second in the B.C. Cup Sprint and the Hastings Speed in 2003. Celt set the pace before tiring in the fastest race at the meet July 22, but he likely needed the start, as he had been off since winning a $50,000 optional claiming race at 6 1/2 furlongs April 29. Frank Fuentes rides, and as usual he will put Celt right on the lead.